How Effective Is Vaseline (Petroleum Jelly) for Cats' Hairballs?

Cat hairballs may be formed due to frequent ingestion of hair. Your cat grooms himself several times per week and given that his tongue is abrasive, this will gather all the loose hairs, which will be ingested. The hairs will mix with the food from the cat’s stomach and will form hairballs. Often, these hairballs will be vomited or coughed up, but they may also cause an intestinal occlusion or block the air passages, which can have severe consequences. Vaseline or petroleum jelly is a remedy that can work in removing hairballs.

Vaseline and Hairballs

Vaseline or petroleum jelly can be administered to cats with hairballs, as the Vaseline will facilitate the elimination of the hairball.

Petroleum jelly is effective in most felines and your cat should eliminate the hairball within 48 hours after administering the Vaseline.

The petroleum jelly works as a lubricant on the digestive tract and will make it easier for the cat to cough up or vomit the fur ball.

You can add petroleum jelly to your pet’s food. Add ½ tbsp of petroleum jelly to the cat’s food, once per day until the cat eliminates the hairball. Vaseline in excess may cause diarrhea.

Petroleum jelly contains mineral oil, which should be given with caution to cats, as the mineral oil will drastically reduce your pet’s vitamin A deposits. Talk to your vet and see if vitamin A supplements are recommended.

Alternative Hairball Remedies

Canned pumpkin can be used to help eliminate the hairballs in your cat. The pumpkin is a fiber rich ingredient.

Soy lecithin can be used to facilitate the digestion of hairballs, as it will emulsify the fat and proteins that may be mixed with the hairs.

You may also purchase a number of commercial gels and granules that are used for felines with constipation or hairballs. These can be added to the cat’s food. Just as with the petroleum jelly, the cat should get vitamin A supplements to prevent a vitamin A deficit in the body.

How to Prevent Hairballs

Hairballs can be prevented by a diet that is rich in fibers; the fibers will facilitate the digestion of the hairs and the foods from the cat’s stomach, so it is less likely that hairballs will form.

Fat emulsifiers may also be added to your cat’s diet, as these will help the digestion.

Talk to your vet to determine the right amount of fibers your cat requires. A diet that contains fibers in excess can cause chronic diarrhea.

Your vet may recommend wet food, which can be administered 1 or 2 times per week, alternated with the dry food.  

Hairball formula foods are also available for cats that are more prone to have constipation or intestinal occlusion due to hairballs. Get a hairball formula that contains all the essential minerals and vitamins and contains also the right amounts of protein, fat and fibers.

Regular brushing and grooming may reduce the amount of loose hairs, so your cat is less likely to develop hairballs.